Monday, August 1, 2022

[Review] - 'Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden' by William Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)

In 1994, Star Trek: Generation left a sour taste in many Trekkie's mouths after they watched the unnecessary death of Captain James T. Kirk and the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D. That same year, William Shatner teamed up with authors Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Pocket Books to resurrect Kirk in what would later become The Odyssey trilogy. Shatner would collaborate with the Reeves-Stevenses on the outlines, and the Reeves-Stevenses would do the actual writing.

Pocket Books published Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden (the first in the so-called "Shatnerverse") in June 1995. The short prologue has Ambassador Spock visiting Kirk's grave on Veridian III, and the epilogue is a teaser for Star Trek: The Return (published in 1997), which hints at Kirk's return from the grave. The rest of the novel takes place in the 23 Century, shortly after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and six months before the launch of the USS Enterprise-B that occurs at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations.  

The sixty-two-year-old James T. Kirk has lost his mojo since Starfleet Command ordered the decommissioning of the USS Enterprise-A. Kirk makes the drastic decision to retire after learning his nemesis, Androvar Drake, was appointed commander-in-chief of Starfleet Command. Then Kirk meets the beautiful Klingon-Romulan hybrid Teilani and falls head over heels in love with her, despite the 40+ age difference.

Teilani represents her homeworld Chal, a Klingon planet in the binary star system. She had requested assistance from Starfleet/Federation, who kindly gave her a stripped-down decommissioned Constitution Class starship - the USS Enterprise-A. Teilani enlists the help of love-struck Kirk and Montgomery "Scotty" Scott to fly the Enterprise to Chal.

Everyone who knows about the existence of Chal either believes it's the home to a fountain of youth or a doomsday weapon. Kirk believes in the fountain of youth. Drake believes in the doomsday weapon - Chalchaj 'qmey (Children of Heaven).

Drake orders Captain Sulu, along with Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Chekov, to take the USS Excelsior to Chal and locate Kirk. Eventually, Drake travels to Chal in his ship and brings along several Klingon battle cruisers in an attempt to destroy the Enterprise and claim the 
Chalchaj 'qmey.

Final Thoughts

Despite growing up as a Trekkie, I was never into reading Star Trek novels until the last few years. I only read a handful of Star Trek books during my teenage years, and one of them happens to be Star Trek: The Return, the sequel to Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden. I knew The Ashes of Eden existed but, for some reason, wasn't interested in reading it. Why? At the time, I wasn't aware the two were related (besides William Shatner's name appearing on the covers) - therefore, I had no urge to read it.

This book gets a lot of hate from the fanbase. They either complain about Shattner's ego or the so-so writing. After reading it for myself, I understand what everyone is saying. Kirk's ego is as big as the entire universe. Everyone across the galaxy knows Kirks' name and fears him. Despite being 62 years old (still young for the 23rd century), he can still get twenty-year-olds to drop their panties anytime he wants some pootie tang. Kirk spends most of the story running around lovestruck over the young Klingon/Romulan, Teilani. He abandons all his pals, except Scotty, for a chance to captain the USS Enterprise-A one last time.

Yes, William Shatner's ego is all over The Ashes of Eden. When did Kirk learn Klingon martial arts? Wait a minute. When did Klingons learn martial arts?

Spoiler Alert for a 27-year-old novel - The USS Enterprise-A gets destroyed! The destruction scene should've been better written. As a reader and a Trekkie, tears should've been rolling down my cheeks. Instead, it was short and coldly written, and I felt nothing.

I didn't have a problem with the rest of the former Enterprise crew. Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu were all written as they should be, unlike Kirk, who felt a bit off. I get it, Kirk is going through a midlife crisis, but he acted too juvenile.

It might seem like I didn't like Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden, but contrary to everything I said above, I had a blast reading it. Sure, it's not a perfect Star Trek adventure, but I had fun revisiting the TOS characters.

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